Redesign of marina planned

THE inspired plans of an experienced mariner to make Coffs Harbour a safe all-weather port have resurfaced after 87 years as the State Government and industry moves toward a redesign of the marina.

Harbour master Captain Jas Cockle first raised the possibility of closing the existing harbour mouth and opening a channel in deep water behind Mutton Bird Island in 1923.

The bold suggestion, which could solve the northern drift of sand into the harbour, has again been re-examined by various Jetty residents. It is thought to be one way to make Coffs the viable halfway port between Sydney and Brisbane for sailors and medium-sized vessels.

The research follows news last month that the NSW Government is waiting on a revised development application from harbour leaseholder Coffs Harbour International Marina to modify boat moorings and facilities.

Long-standing Coffs Harbour resident Rob Godwin says Captain Cockle’s largely forgotten about plan is credible even today.

“From the research we’ve done, he was the first one to recommend an entrance through the north wall and to finish linking up the South Island with Mutton Bird Island,” Mr Godwin said.

“(His) advice was never acted upon and this is why the harbour has never been a safe all-weather calm-water anchorage for vessels and continues to be such a bad sand trap to this day.”

The proposed seawall modifications show how existing walls would brace the new entrance.

Another structure would run north-south to protect the inner harbour from prevailing bad weather from the north-east.

It’s been argued the harbour would be weather-proofed, if these changes were made along with the sinking of an artificial reef or heightened wall along the northern breakwater.

Capt. Cockle, who had an intimate knowledge of the harbour, raised the suggestion before a Public Works committee in March 1923.

His advice was ignored and six months later, Acting Prime Minister Dr Earl Page inspected work on Coffs’ eastern breakwater.

Today, an estimated 50,000 tonnes of sand enters the harbour each year.

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